Bernie Tarr said Springfield which reminds him of his high school team.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Bernie Tarr can relate to the buzz surrounding Springfield High boys basketball.
"When I was at their district game in Salem, I got goose bumps," said Tarr, the third-year coach at Bedford Chanel. "It reminded me of what I went through."
Tarr was a senior on the 1986 Girard team that won the school's first district championship in 33 years. He scored 10 points as the Indians defeated Warren JFK.
Talk about irony.
Springfield (22-1), which plays Bedford Chanel (20-3) in Wednesday's Division III regional semifinal at the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse, ended a 33-year district title drought last week.
"I've seen them four different times, against four different styles of teams," Tarr said of the Tigers.
What impresses him most?
"Their consistency," he said. "It really reminds me of my senior year at Girard -- the type of team they are and the way the community and student body support them."
Tarr compares his team's matchup with Springfield to the movie "Rocky IV," in which Rocky, played by Sylvester Stallone, fights a seemingly-unbeatable Russian.
"They're big and strong and they haven't been challenged," Tarr said of the Tigers. "Nobody has chipped their armor."
At least, not lately. Springfield lost its first game of the season -- to East Liverpool -- and has won 22 straight, including an impressive victory over previously-unbeaten Poland in the regular season finale.
"Our goal is to get the lead early and see how they play from behind," said Tarr, a Niles resident, whose previous head coaching jobs came at Badger and Hubbard.
That didn't happen in Chanel's district championship victory over Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph.
The Firebirds, plagued by foul trouble, fell behind by 14 points in the first half and had to rely on their bench to rally for a 56-51 victory.
"That group just hung in there," Tarr said of his bench. "Then, when we brought the starters back in the third quarter, we went after them [VA-SJ]."
That's what Chanel does -- they attack opponents with pressure defense, which Springfield will be forced to handle.
"For 32 minutes, we come at you," Tarr said. "Our guys have thrived on that and they've made that commitment."
After watching the frenzied atmosphere of Springfield's district championship win over St. Thomas Aquinas, Tarr is preparing his team for anything.
In fact, Tarr had a Chanel band teacher make an audio tape simulating the noise and chants of the Springfield student section.
"I thought that definitely rattled Aquinas," Tarr said of the pro-Springfield supporters, who will invade Canton on Wednesday night.
"This is going to be like a road game."